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Psychology and Mental Health Dictionary Definitions - Schizoaffective disorder - Psychforums.com


Schizoaffective disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a mental disorder characterized by recurring episodes of elevated or depressed mood, or simultaneously elevated and depressed mood that alternate or occur together with distortions in perception. The perceptual distortion component of the disorder, called psychosis, may affect all five senses, including sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, but most commonly manifest as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking with significant social and occupational dysfunction. The elevated, depressed or simultaneously elevated and depressed mood episode components of the disorder, called mood disorder, are broadly recognized as depressive and bipolar types of the illness; the division is based on whether the individual has ever had a manic, hypomanic or mixed episode. Onset of symptoms usually begins in early adulthood and is rarely diagnosed in childhood (prior to age 13). The lifetime prevalence of the disorder is uncertain (due to studies using varying diagnostic criteria), although it is generally agreed to be less than 1 percent, and possibly in the range of 0.5 to 0.8 percent. Diagnosis is based on the patient´s self-reported experiences and observed behavior. No laboratory test for schizoaffective disorder currently exists. As a group, people with schizoaffective disorder have a more favorable prognosis than people with schizophrenia, but a worse prognosis than those with mood disorders.

Studies suggest that genetics, early environment, neurobiology, psychological and social processes are important contributory factors; some recreational and prescription drugs appear to cause or worsen symptoms. Current psychiatric research is focused on the role of neurobiology, but no single organic cause has been found.

The mainstay of treatment is antipsychotic medication combined with mood stabilizer medication or antidepressant medication, or both. Antipsychotic drugs primarily work by suppressing dopamine activity; while antidepressant drugs primarily work by increasing the active levels of at least one monoamine neurotransmitter. The exact mechanism of how mood stabilizers work is uncertain. Psychotherapy, and vocational and social rehabilitation (see psychiatric rehabilitation) are also important for recovery. In more serious cases—where there is risk to self and others—involuntary hospitalization may be necessary, although hospital stays are less frequent and for shorter periods than they were in previous times.

The disorder is thought to mainly affect cognition and emotion, but it also usually contributes to ongoing problems with behavior and motivation. People with schizoaffective disorder are likely to have additional (comorbid) conditions, including anxiety disorders and substance abuse. Social problems, such as long-term unemployment, poverty and homelessness, are common. Furthermore, the average life expectancy of people with the disorder is shorter than those without the disorder, due to increased physical health problems and a higher suicide rate.

The diagnosis was introduced in 1933 and will be removed from or amended in the next iteration of the American Psychiatric Association´s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), to be published in 2012.

Read and post in our Schizoaffective disorder forum.

Source : Wikipedia.org


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